Photo: Harriet Eser Phillips/WritersClearinghouse News Service
FANCY FELINEBY CHEEKY
[WITERSCLEARINGHOUSE NEWS SERVICE/BIO]
(The First of Two Parts)My name is Cheeky, or Cheeky K, Cheekster, Cheekykins, The Cheeks, etc. I am an American short-hair cat .... of dubious heritage, but quite acceptable by kitty standards, if a bit rotund. Too many mouse fillets. Well, Italian roast beef bits, really. My care-giver, to whom I refer as "Mom" as she tends to baby me and I love it, bailed me out of Rescue Prison where I whiled away for eighteen long months. Lots of lookers, but no takers until I decided to spruce up my act by lifting a front paw in order to captivate prospective rescuers with my friendly charm. How many cats shake hands? Really! At least it worked on this Mom!
I have been home now for seven spectacular years, and will have my fourteenth birthday soon. About a year ago it came to Mom's attention that I was not responding to her voice. Mom figured out my hearing had left me immediately. She explained that this was not the end of the world, and that I was in good company (Beethoven, Gabriel Faure, Lon Cheney, Sr., Alexander Graham Bell, Francisco Goya, and even Gaileo, and many more wonderful people who lived grand lives without birds chirping to entertain them). I love classical music, especially violin concertos and can be stretched out in front of the stereo speakers for hours. Even if I cannot hear, my whiskers feel the vibration and it's great. I memorized the Bruch and the Beethoven and the Brahms long ago. Mom conducts with a wooden spoon, that's very helpful. Music is true soul food for all of us, just takes a little more imagination and effort sometimes.
We've embarked on a program of sign language. Well Mom did as she feels the need to communicate more than I do somehow. Slap on knee, "jump on lap.' Pointing signifies "look there." Slap on thigh, "come here." Very loud whistle, "where are you." Lip smacking and tummy rubbing, 'Come get a snack.' I always know what she wants, and she is so happy when I do the obvious for her. I cannot hear the garage door open, so do not always manage to greet her at the back door, but sometimes I surprise her and sit on her desk chair looking quite smug, as if I knew she was coming right then. Maybe I did. I'll never tell.
We have a screen porch leading to my domain, and I have no wish to wander beyond. I sit at the patio door and look longingly at the leafless trees wondering if they will ever thaw and sprout. Mom says they will, but this has been a relentless winter. I despise the cold (Mom says that's ridiculous as I am wearing a full-length fur coat, complete with boots and mittens and ear muffs). That is not the point. If I sit long enough, and whine and meow, I can cajole her into opening the door a few inches so I can be assured I am not missing anything. A quick sniff of the frigid air and I turn and run like the west wind to the nearest register and plunk myself down for a belly toasting. She says, "Told you so, you silly Cheekster," and all is good. I will be patient. We must all be patient, and when Spring comes, we will shake the icicles out of our heads and smile. Warmly, once more.
(Cheeky's musings are channelled by Harriet Eser Philips).